Leveraging Influence When You Lack Authority

How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge

By Clay Scroggins (Forward by Andy Stanley)

There are some things that stick out to you like a sore thumb. For me, this book was one of them. I don’t know if it was the colorful yellow cover, the $5.00 sale price sticker, the forward being written by Andy Stanley or the captivating title that related so closely to the struggles I face in leadership today of “How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge”.

I am at my first church as a senior pastor. That title can be misleading as I am only thirty-five years old (Hardly a senior). I have learned in my short time here that the leader is not always in charge, so I must learn how to lead when I’m not in charge.

Change Doesn’t Just Happen

“If a leader does not inspire confidence, he or she will be unable to effect change without resorting to brute force”

Most of us have been there, right? We are sitting in a board meeting and either the chairperson or another member demands their own way, raises their voice above the rest, and intimidates everyone. They don’t inspire confidence but, they inspire fear and the tension is so thick that you could cut it with a knife.

Scroggins Experience

Scroggins shares an experience he had with a leader who was reacting with brute force. He had an internship in the governor’s office in Atlanta. He overheard a meeting in the conference room. Voices were getting louder and louder until finally the Governor abruptly banged his fist on the table and yelled “Listen to me.” This led to an awkward silence in the room.

My Experience

I have experienced something like what Scroggins has. But I was in the meeting room with some church leaders. I had a lady react in the same way. She screamed and pounded her fist on the table causing her mug of coffee to spill everywhere. She was still screaming when she bent down to clean up the mess.

Now Make it Happen

So how do you lead when you’re not in charge? Do you use brute force, raise your voice, and throw a tantrum? No. We should lead in love. The Apostle Paul speaks in the epistle of 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 which is known as the “love” chapter and says that love does not demand its own way, it doesn’t act unbecomingly. In Matthew 26:20-28 Jesus talks about a “not so with you” type of leadership. This is in reference to rulers and high officials exercising authority over the people by demanding their own way.

Jesus says that if you want to be great then you must become a servant. Leadership isn’t about “doing as I say” but “doing as I do” and a great leader must first be a great follower of Jesus Christ.

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